Graphic calculator, worth it or not?

Discussion in 'Math' started by amilton542, May 12, 2012.

  1. amilton542

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Nov 13, 2010
    I've been debating whether or not to treat myself to a graphic-calculator.

    A question that pops into my mind is, are they worth it or not? I would be interested to hear a review from somebody who's used one.

    My big idea of a graphic-calculator is to avert the tedious method of plotting coordinates, correct?
  2. evilclem


    Dec 20, 2011
    I don't use the graphing features on my graphics calculators at all. I find it much easier to plot graphs on a PC.

    I have a Texas Instruments TI-89 (new and old one) and find features such as the equation solver quite useful a lot of the time.

    It really depends on what you want from a calculator and what you do though.
    amilton542 likes this.
  3. Sparky49

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 16, 2011
    I've got one, and I really do recommend it. It's a cheap, low end one, but it saves me so much time.

    I find I use it more for algebra than graphing, but that's due to the course I'm on. I use it for factorising polynomials, simultaneous, and solving equations which would normally waste time.

    Eg, you've got a polynomial with x^6, and it doesn't factorise with real numbers. The calculator will take 10 s to figure it out, and you can get on with the rest of the question. :)

    Its also useful to check with. If you're not sure when a graph crosses, type it in and check.
    amilton542 likes this.
  4. amilton542

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Nov 13, 2010
    I only want one so I can graph functions, but I suppose it would be more efficient to stick with a computer.
  5. panic mode

    Senior Member

    Oct 10, 2011
    if all you care about is plotting graphs, you just need web access.

    it is free, it calculates and plots, solves all kind of problems and it does not need programming experience like matlab for example.

    just type in plain english what you need, it will 'understand'....

    if you are a student, this is very handy to check your solutions, or - see how to solve things (click on button 'show step by step')
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
    absf, amilton542 and Sparky49 like this.
  6. Markd77

    Senior Member

    Sep 7, 2009
    There are other advantages to the graphical screen, it shows the calculation, so if you press 2x3x4, that is what you would see on the screen, but on a normal calculator you would only see "4". They are usually more fully featured and programmable. Back at school and university they were very useful, but if you are near a computer you may as well use that. If you have a smartphone there are applications that provide some of the functionality.
    amilton542 likes this.
  7. russ_hensel

    Distinguished Member

    Jan 11, 2009
    Use a computer. In addition to spreadsheets look at Sage Math.
    amilton542 likes this.
  8. amilton542

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Nov 13, 2010
    Thank you for your input.

    I've been looking at a few on Yotube, in particular the Casio-Prism and in all fairness, I can't see the point in using one to be quite honest.

    I've chosen to stay put with stationary and computer software.
  9. count_volta

    Active Member

    Feb 4, 2009
    First learn the following and learn it well:

    Numeric operations with complex numbers.
    Going from rectangular to polar forms and vice versa.
    Solving matrices that result from circuits by hand.

    Now get a graphing calculator and NEVER do any of these by hand again. ;)
  10. 1chance


    Nov 26, 2011
    I totally agree with this statement. A graphing calculator is mandatory for all my classes and really frees one from computation errors. It's more portable for most than a computer and very affordable, especially when bought used on ebay. A TI-84 or 86 will suffice for all but the highest level of computation. A calculator can be more than a tool, it can be a lifestyle.:D
  11. MrChips


    Oct 2, 2009
    Reminds me of when us engineers used to carry a sliderule around sticking out of our back pockets.
    Wanna see my sliderule if you show me yours?
  12. 1chance


    Nov 26, 2011
    I still have mine from high school chemistry that we used in the precalculator days. I thought it was close to being a magic wand! I'd have to look at my instruction booklet (which I still have) in order to use it now. I dust it off every few years to show my students when they start complaining about calculators. I also have an 8 page handworked homework problem from differential equations that helps with the whining about homework.:D
  13. amilton542

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Nov 13, 2010
    The truth is, I feel there is significant merit in deriving the solution by way of old school mind-power. In other words, what does one achieve if it is all done for them - time management?

    I will give you my definition on elementary calculus: By means of algebra (laws of indices in particular) and arithmetic operations, students will successfully compute the 'correct' answer with no intention on what that solution tells you, period.
  14. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    I bought a TI82 just under a year ago for $10 at Dallas HamCom. Not a clue how to use the programming aspects.